Dancing Across the Page by Karen Barbour (review)


Dancing Across the Page is a monograph by New Zealand author Karen Barbour, a contemporary choreographer and performer with scholarly training in philosophy and the social sciences. As her title playfully indicates, Barbour focuses attention on the interstices between corporeal and scriptural experiences. Approaching the study of dance as a performing art, Barbour views her own writing as a form of dance. Dancing Across the Page brings into relief the author’s choreographed editing practice, displaying both her self-aware creative process and her own critical strategies. She blends scholarly rigor and objectives with a more personal narrative style, presenting dialogues, lyrical passages as well as vivid prose and suggestive imagery. In her distinctive, essayistic manner, Barbour stakes out her theoretical stance and comments on the political aims she has formed through her own life experience as a dancer, dance instructor, academic researcher and author, feminist, woman, mother, and English-speaking Pākehā, the term New Zealanders use to identify descendants of the island’s European colonizers. The variegated roles the author has played in contemporary New Zealand’s cultural context is, to be sure, charged with social significance.

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